Emma Wren Gibson, born on Nov 25, was conceived from the longest known frozen human embryo, originally put in the freezer on October 14, 1992. That’s more than 25 years later, marking a new record for in vitro fertilization. Oddly enough, that would also technically make Emma older than her mother, Tina.

“Do you realize I’m only 25? This embryo and I could have been best friends,” Tina Gibson told a CNN reporter, adding “I just wanted a baby. I don’t care if it’s a world record or not.”

The embryo was thawed on March 13 by Carol Sommerfelt, embryology lab director at the National Embryo Donation Center. Previously, the oldest known frozen embryo that came to successful birth was 20 years old.

Emma was born healthy and without any complications, which can be mind-boggling when you consider that her embryonic self was frozen for the past 25 years. Along with four sibling embryos, the so-called ‘snowbaby’ was created for in vitro fertilization by an anonymous couple so someone unable or unwilling to conceive a child naturally could birth them.

Sommerfelt said she had unthawed three “snowbabies,” all adopted from the same donor family. All three survived despite about a 75% survival rate when unthawing frozen embryos. When all three were transferred to Tina, just one survived, which was expected since the successful implantation rate “normally runs about 25% to 30%,” she said.

“It is deeply moving and highly rewarding to see that embryos frozen 24.5 years ago using the old, early cryopreservation techniques of slow freezing on day one of development at the pronuclear stage can result in 100 percent survival of the embryos with a 100 percent continued proper development to the day-3 embryo stage,” said Sommerfelt in a statement.

“I will always remember what the Gibsons said when presented with the picture of their embryos at the time of transfer: ‘These embryos could have been my best friends,’ as Tina herself was only 25 at the time of transfer.”

 

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